The winter months often bring with them lethargy and weight gain. People feel more tired and as a result move more slowly, which allows the pounds to pack on. In Ayurveda, this sluggishness is caused by the body’s need to keep warm by stoking its digestive fires, or agni.
Heating Up the Body
It is the agni, or fire within, which helps burn the food people crave during the coldest months of the year. Heavier foods, higher in fat, proteins and complex carbohydrates, are favorites. Things like nuts, root vegetables, sugary foods and dairy contain nutrients the body needs to generate heat and the extra layer bodies need in cold climates.
Nourishing the agni promotes clear thinking, a healthy appetite and boosts the immune system. It also provides energy.
Neglecting the agni, starving it, results in low energy, congestion, poor immunity, circulation and digestive. It can even cause joints to ache and bring on depression.
Spices and herbs that promote agni include basil, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, fennel, ginger, mustard seed, nutmeg, oregano, pepper and thyme. They can be used in recipes for stews, porridge, chai tea and mulled cider and will help the body with its winter mandate of staying warm.
Timing Is Everything
Although the agni allows people to eat heavier foods, over-eating still isn’t allowed. People should remember to eat sweets and dairy in moderation and instead of grazing all day, plan to eat three meals with the heaviest one in the midday when the body’s ability to burn calories is strongest. Lunchtime is the best time of day for all the baked goodies for which the holiday season is known.
Share Your Ideas
What foods or drinks are winter staples for you? Let us know.
Photo credit: Toasted Herbs, Spices and Nuts by scaredy_kat